Wednesday, September 20, 2006

If it's WorkChoices then it's no choice!

Australian chewing gum giant Wrigley’s has issued maintenance workers at its Asquith plant with AWA’s, after walking away from negotiations with the the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.

AMWU Official, Michelle Burgess said:

“Wrigleys simply walked away from the negotiating table when workers would not agree to a massive wages cut.”

“The company claimed they needed to reduce costs to stay competitive and be more flexible. But they don’t have any competitors in Australia – they control the market!”

Michelle Burgess said that the company demanded:
  • Reduced weekend penalty rates
  • No more toilet and wash up breaks
  • Halving shift penalty rates
  • Reduced annual leave for shift workers
One Wrigleys worker said: “If this is what John Howard means by WorkChoices, then its no choice!”

“The company told us: ‘Either sign the AWA or keep our current Agreement - but you’ll never get another pay rise’. That’s not much of a choice.”

Friday, September 15, 2006

Howard apes Bush

Does this sound familiar?

President Bush and his allies in Congress have it in for working families. They’ve taken away overtime pay, refused to raise the minimum wage, given huge tax breaks to the rich and attacked our union rights. Now, the Bush National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is poised to broaden the definition of “supervisor” in a move that could rob 8 million workers of their collective bargaining rights.

The NLRB is preparing to rule on a series of three cases collectively called “Kentucky River.” It won’t be any surprise if the NLRB uses these cases to erode workers’ rights.

Under President Bush, the NLRB already weakened the collective bargaining rights of graduate employees, workers with disabilities and temporary workers. The Bush administration also stripped 40,000 federal workers of their freedom to form unions and is trying to take collective bargaining rights away from 860,000 more.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

ACTU lays out collective bargaining vision

Launching the report and policy vision at the National Press Club today, ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said:

"Unions are about protecting and improving the livelihoods and living standards of working Australians and that is what collective bargaining does.

We want to see basic employee rights and fairness returned to Australia's industrial relations system.

A central feature of our proposal is to ensure workers have the right to bargain collectively with their employer and that workers can have a collective agreement if that is what a majority of workers in a workplace want.

We want to enshrine democracy in our workplaces and restore the balance that has been taken away by the Howard Government's IR laws.

John Howard Government's AWA individual contracts are being used to drive down the wages and conditions of working Australians and they should be abolished.

We think Australia's work laws should support collective bargaining based on an obligation on unions, workers and employers to bargain in good faith with arbitration used only as a last resort.

The union proposal would no longer allow employers to lock out workers and refuse to offer anything other than individual contracts - as is increasingly happening under the current IR laws."


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Judge blasts Howard's IR laws

A judge has attacked Australia's tough industrial laws while dismissing a case of building workers who were paid while they stopped work to honour a dead colleague.

Federal Court judge Tony North said yesterday a section of the Workplace Relations Act stopping bosses paying workers in a safety audit was harsh.

"If penalties are imposed on employers who pay workers for stoppages which reasonable people would see as understandable and justified . . . the law itself will be seen to be out of step with reasonable community expectations," Justice North said.

He dismissed charges against builder B&P Caelli Constructions and two officials from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.

The case was prosecuted by the building industry watchdog, the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

It involved workers being paid for a stoppage in August 2003 after a worker died in Shepparton.

The ABCC pursued the builder for providing strike pay, and union officials for allegedly demanding the pay in breach of the Act.

CFMEU state secretary Martin Kingham said the ruling was a slap in the face for the ABCC and Federal Government.

Indigenous strike leader dies in Pilbara

An Aboriginal elder, who was one of the leaders of the first strike by Aboriginal pastoral workers, has died in the Pilbara, in north-west Western Australia.

Peter Coppin, often known as Kangushot, was one of the leaders of the 1946 strike by Aboriginal workers to protest against the conditions they worked under.

It was the first time there had been such a strike.

He was born under gum trees at the De Grey River in the Pilbara in 1920 and when he died yesterday, aged 86, he was the most senior lawman and Aboriginal leader in the Pilbara.

Former Western Australian premier Peter Dowding, who was a friend of the Indigenous leader, says the country has lost one of its heroes.

"Many people across the whole of Australia and indeed internationally will recognise the loss of such a great man," Mr Dowding said.

"He'll be remembered by the community at large for the great contribution he made over many, many years."

Mr Coppin's efforts eventually led to better conditions for Aboriginal workers and he was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1972 and was NAIDOC 2002 Elder of the Year.

Song: Clancy and Dooley and Don McLeod

Sell Howard not Medibank (2)

ACNeilson poll shows the Government's proposal to sell Medibank has attracted an emphatic thumbs down from voters.

Only 17 per cent of respondents support Medibank being sold. Opposition is stronger among minor party (77 per cent) and Labor (76 per cent) supporters. But 46 per cent of Coalition voters are also against the sale.

The increasingly jittery Howard government is to delay the sale of Medibank Private until 2008, Finance Minister Nick Minchin said today.

But on advice, it will hold off on the listing until after the next election!

Senator Minchin said the Government was committed to the sale and would introduce enabling legislation in October, which it try to force through parliament by the end of December!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Queensland vote: Howard IR laws on the nose

Labor's election win in Queensland proves voters do not support the federal government's workplace relations laws, Premier Peter Beattie says

"I think there is a message in here in terms of industrial relations," Mr Beattie said.

"And I say to the Prime Minister, Australians want a fair go in the workplace.

"They don't like their security of work being put at jeopardy and at risk.

"And if the Prime Minister wants to take something out of Queensland, and I hope he will, is that these laws of the jungle, these American-type industrial relations laws are not supported by the average Australian family."

Bruce Hawker - of the Labor consultancy Hawker Britton, and a key strategist in the campaign - said research showed industrial relations was an issue that would change votes if voters believed states were "in a position to do something about it".

"The Coalition couldn't agree on IR, and John Howard blocked the Coalition merger, announced he'd sell the rest of Telstra and had his promise of 'no banana' imports shown for its hollowness," Mr Hawker said. "That allowed us to focus our advertising on Beattie being the only leader willing to stand up to Howard on IR, interest rates and petrol prices."


Sunday, September 10, 2006

BMUC meeting

Blue Mountains Unions Council meeting
Sunday 10 September, 11am
Blackburn's Family Hotel
(next to the fire station in Katoomba)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Reply to Jackie Kelly

In Penrith Press, Jackie Kelly wrote "I know our workchoices legislation has offered some relief from union bullying but I think it didn't go far enough".

Undoubtedly the Howard verson of the nanny state where the Federal Government micro manages the relations between workers and their employers is more to her liking.

Where belonging to a union and taking action to defend working and safety conditions recedes into dim a memory of a bygone golden era.

Where the employer is relieved by law from any responsiblily other than making more dough

Where the immigration department evolves into a modern version of the "Blackbirding" systems of imported indentured labour so loved by the government's precursors in the 19th Century

Where the penal clauses against wage earners daring to stop work can result in fines that foreclose their right to own a house.

Jackie, the reason the government calls it WorkChoices is because it it offers no choice and it can't work! George Orwell called it newspeak, and everyone knows who the real bullies are.

Politics in the Pub: 7th October 2006

WorkChoices or No Choices?

Come for lunch, stay for the Forum

Community Forum about WorkChoices
Blackburn’s Family Hotel, 15 Parke Street, Katoomba

Speakers include:

Associate Professor Joellen Riley, author of a book, WorkChoices
Mark MacDiarmid, Senior Solicitor, Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre
Justice Paul Munro, former Senior Deputy President, AIRC, Sydney
Martin Cartwright, ‘Your Rights at Work Campaign’, Macquarie, Unions NSW

Further information:
Brett O’Brien 0413866520 Margaret McDonough-Glenn 0401385509

download flyer

Monday, September 04, 2006

Keep Medibank: sack Howard!

Despite growing community concerns, the Federal Government is steaming ahead with plans to sell Medibank, Australia's most successful 'not-for-profit' health fund. While big business is keen to get its hands on Medibank's $1 billion assets, there serious concerns the sale will reduce competition; putting pressure on premiums, jobs and services. At the very least, Medibank's three million members deserve a say in its future. If you agree, please complete the survey.

Did you know...

  • Medibank is Australia's only national health fund, with outlets in every state.
  • More than 3 million Australians rely on Medibank.
  • Medibank is a publicly owned, 'not-for-profit' company.
  • Under the current rules, any profits made by Medibank must be reinvested for the benefit of members.

Find out more at

Friday, September 01, 2006

18 September: John Pilger film: Palestine is Still the Issue

Palestine is Still the Issue,
Monday September 18, 7.30pm
Tris Elies nightclub, Katoomba

Green Left Weekly and the Blue Mountains Socialist Alliance are proud to present John Pilger's moving and topical documentary, Palestine is Still the Issue, at Tris Elies nightclub in Katoomba (next to the train station). The film will be followed by a discussion period.

Entry is $8 waged/$5 concession/ $10 solidarity price.

For more info, please phone Terry on 4787 7859 or John on 4782 6347.